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Food

Homemade salsa macha is the gateway to the best tacos

Salsa macha
Keep salsa macha on the table to add smoky heat to any dish.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Mixing toasted dried chiles with fresh uncooked olive oil results in a salsa that’s more like a sambal or chile oil. While salsa macha often includes nuts, this version uses sesame seeds to impart a nutty taste. Orange zest and juice stand in for the usual vinegar and give the mix a refreshing tang. This recipe comes from Tacos 1986 and serves as a seasoning and accompaniment to Tacos al Hongo.

Salsa Macha

10 minutes. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces dried ancho chiles, stemmed
  • 1 ounce dried cascabel or guajillo chiles, stemmed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 small orange

Instructions

  1. Heat a comal or large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Place both chiles and the garlic on the hot surface in a single layer. Toast, turning often, until the chiles are brittle and a shade darker and the garlic is blistered in spots, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chiles and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and add the oil, sesame seeds and salt. Pulse until well mixed. Zest the orange peel directly into the processor, then halve the orange and squeeze in its juice. Pulse once or twice just to incorporate. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Make ahead: The salsa can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Adapted from Jorge Alvarez-Tostado.


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